Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it should be no surprise that the NJ/NY area is still reeling from Sandy. Things are a mess.
In New Jersey, boardwalks are gone. Towns and the shore will never look the same. People are without power and unable to get back to their homes. Not being there, I don’t have as first-hand of a knowledge of the situation there, but it is NOT a happy place.
In New York, an entire community burned to the ground. At least 8 people have died – and likely more. Two little boys were swept from their mother’s arms by the waters and are likely dead. Hundreds of thousands are still without power. The bus system is still running on a fairly limited schedule, and subways will just begin the baby steps of getting back up and running tomorrow. Lower Manhattan is still totally without power. The Staten Island ferry is not running (more on this later). LaGuardia is closed until further notice. Parks are closed due to the possibility of limbs and/or trees falling on people. At least one building lost its entire front.
And yet, after rattling off so much that’s closed, not running to full capacity, not operating at all, AND announcing that the NBA game scheduled for the Barclays Center tonight was cancelled AT HIS REQUEST, Mayor Bloomberg wasted no time in stating that the ING New York City Marathon was on.
Excuse me, WHAT?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a runner. I’ve trained for two marathons so far – and four half marathons. When I was about to run my first half marathon – in Walt Disney World – I was stranded in Orlando (my sister lives and works there and we’d all gathered there for Christmas) for 5 days because of the blizzard. I got back to New York on January 1 and was scheduled to leave again for Orlando five days later. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get out because we didn’t know if MORE snow was coming. But I realized that part of the risk in signing up for a January race and having to travel from the Northeast, I was taking a chance. I’m registered for the WDW Marathon in January 2013, and I recognize the same thing. I know how disappointing it would be to either have a race cancelled or not be able to get there.
But I understand that things happen and my little life or my little race schedule isn’t as important as the lives of other people. Disappointed? Yes. Frustrated? Sure. But shit happens.
In the case of pretty much EVERY airline, change fees have been waived because of the storm. And if you were flying into a closed airport or your flight gets cancelled, THEY have to make arrangements to deal with that. I’ve already heard of hotels refunding supposedly non-refundable fees for people unable to get to the city.
And the race will go on. Regardless of Staten Island being at least for the moment unreachable and resembling a war zone – ignoring that hundreds of thousands are without power and generators shall be brought in for the starting village. Regardless of the fact that hundreds of thousands have no clean drinking water, gallons and gallons of bottled water will be handed out to runners. Regardless of the hundreds of thousands who are going without food or with limited access to food (soup kitchens that have NEVER closed in their entire history have been forced to close in the wake of the storm because of lack of power), bananas and bagels and lord only knows what else will be handed out to runners. Regardless of the fact that looting is going on in parts of the city and that many first responders have been working WITHOUT SLEEP for DAYS and have even had to ask reporters what day it is, they will be expected to be out on the marathon route providing security and traffic control for the runners.
And remember. I’m a runner! I get what training for a race means and takes out of you. I get it.
But this is not the time.
On a personal note, I LOVE volunteering at my running club’s fluid/cheer station (Mile 24). I love it. But on a good Sunday when trains are mostly running normally, it takes me two hours to get up to the location. ON A GOOD TRAN SERVICE DAY! I’m sorry. As much as I love it, I am not getting up at 3am to get there. I will get there when I can, but it won’t be at 7:30. And I suspect I’m not the only one.
I know people have said things along the lines of “It’s like after 9/11. It’ll lift the city up.” The marathon was 7 1/2 weeks after 9/11. I highly doubt if it had been scheduled for the weekend after ANYONE would have been pushing for it to go on.
9/11 to Sandy isn’t a direct comparison, but what there is to compare can’t be discounted if for no other reason than in terms of scope, much more of the city is affected physically by Sandy and her aftermath.
But don’t just let me speak. Others have and much more eloquently.
I know the saying is bad press is better than no press, but between this and less than complimentary article from the Times a few weeks ago, NYRR is definitely not getting good press lately. Yes, ultimately Bloomberg spoke the words that the marathon will go on, but only after Mary passed the buck and said that they would let the mayor have the final call.
I’m a runner. I get it. You’ve trained for the marathon and want to run it. I get it.
There’s a time to run.
But this isn’t it.